Bill O'Reilly briefly shook hands with Pope Francis during the Vatican's weekly Wednesday meeting with the public, the New York Times reported. O'Reilly has been vacationing in Italy for the past week, avoiding the spotlight of numerous claims of sexual harassment against the Fox anchor.
He stood in line to meet the Pope in a special VIP section Wednesday morning, as a photograph from L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's daily newspaper, shows.
The Murdoch family plans to meet on Thursday to decide O'Reilly's fate, with sources close to the matter saying he is already out at the network. A new accuser came forward on Tuesday after it was reported that O'Reilly has settled with five female accusers for $13 million.
The Pope's weekly audiences are open to the public, with tens of thousands of people filling St. Peter's Square to get a glimpse of the Bishop of Rome. The Vatican said last week that no official meeting with O'Reilly would occur, but celebrities and public figures often circumvent official meetings and use their connections to secure tickets to the VIP section during the weekly audience for a quick photo opportunity.
Here is Bill O’Reilly literally meeting with Pope Francis this morning pic.twitter.com/SlNMqAnsKn
— Michael M. Grynbaum (@grynbaum) April 19, 2017
It is unclear if Pope Francis is aware of who Bill O'Reilly is, and the brief handshake does not signify any support for his politics or position. O'Reilly has not in the past been a big fan of the pontiff.
In February of 2016, Pope Francis said that a man who builds walls instead of bridges is "not Christian." And without mentioning Trump by name, he later said, "A Christian can never say, 'I'll make you pay for that.'"
O'Reilly, in defense of Trump, spoke out against the Pope's statements and called for a meeting with the leader of the Catholic Church. "I think I could persuade the pope that providing protection and enforcing settled law is certainly not un-Christian," he said at the time.
Pope Francis, whose teachings are dominated by the theme of mercy, circled the square in his Popemobile speaking of how happiness and joy can grow where there is "sadness, defeat and shadow," before blessing the gathered crowd.
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